Love Yourself

Love Thyself

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Written by: Abigail Atkins

I have to veer away from the Law of Faith Bible study, I have a new plan in my heart for that study plan.  So, with that being said, I had to ask myself, “What message do you feel like it is that God would have you share with his beautiful women of the world today?”  I must confess, sometimes this is really hard.  It’s hard to open up and bear your soul, it would be so much easier to stick to a non-personal lesson plan.  But, I believe it is in the raw, ugly truths of life that we are able to grow.  It is sharing those moments and trials and triumphs that make people say, “Hey, I really needed to hear that.  I’m so glad that you shared that, I’ve never told anyone this before, but I can relate so much to that.”  So, after some time and reflection, I decided that what you should hear today is that it is okay to love yourself.  It is okay to be a little selfish with your time.  It is okay to embrace all of your beautiful quirks and flaws, and love yourself just the way you are.

A few weeks ago, I was spending a lot of time working on me.  I was walking, and meditating, and taking long, hot baths.  I was neglecting housework, and loving it!  So, of course, the thought comes to my mind that I was being selfish with my time.  How can you love others, and serve others, if you are so focused on yourself?

That morning, this Bible verse popped in my mind, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39.

At first, I thought to myself, “Why THAT verse?  Why is that the scripture that is coming to my mind?  Where did that come from?”

Then, it came to me, that still, small voice that speaks to me.  That gentle whisper of God that says to my spirit, “My child, it is okay for you to love yourself.  In fact, I WANT you to love yourself.  If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love other people the way you should.  Listen to my words, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The way you love others is a reflection of how you love yourself.   It is okay to be a little selfish with your time, if that means you will learn to love yourself as I do.  It is okay to spend some time loving yourself if it means it will help you love others better“.

I am reminded of when I was a new mom, and the advice that people would sometimes give me was to take some time for myself.  Some would say that taking some time for you makes you a better mother.  It made sense to me, because I noticed that when I felt overwhelmed, I could step back and take just a minute for me, even if that just meant a trip to Wal-Mart alone.  And, when I got back home, I felt recharged.  I felt like, okay, wow…that’s what it feels like just to be me and do what I want to do, and it felt good.  Now, I can be mom again and be okay with all of the responsibility that comes with that title.

Even a little break at work is refreshing, just a few minutes to get away or sit down on a lunch break, or a little vacation time…  Surely, you all know how good it feels just to sit down for a little while when you’ve been on your feet all day working.  Sometimes, just that little moment of relaxation gives you the strength you need to finish out the work day strong and energized.  So, don’t let that old devil make you feel guilty about turning down the next big assignment to take some time for yourself. You deserve some time for yourself.  And, when you take the time for you, you will be able to love others so much better.

Before I go, I cannot talk to you about loving yourself without talking to you about how DEEPLY you are loved.  Just as my husband loves me enough to allow me some time to sneak away now and then for some “mommy time”, God also loves you enough to allow you some time to love yourself.  Do you really believe that if you were to ask God for some time to yourself that he would say, “No, sorry…you don’t have time to love yourself.  I’ve got a full day booked for you loving others, now get to work.”  No way!  Would you stay at a job that wouldn’t allow you just 30 minutes to take a break on a hectic 9 hour work day?  Probably not for long.  So, do you think that if you said to God that you needed a few minutes to take a break from serving others that he would say, okay, but I will love you less if you stop going for a minute and take a break.  No!

I think that we as women, are so much harder on ourselves than God or anyone else is.  It can be easy to fall into believing the lie that you are not enough.  And, it can be very hard to take criticism, because if they only understood how hard you are on yourself internally, they would know there is no need to criticize.  You don’t have to tell me, I’m bad at communicating with other people, I already know that.  And, haven’t you noticed that I’m already trying to work on that and get better at that?  For those that have experienced extreme hurt and rejection throughout their lives, it can be hard to believe that anyone could really love them.  There was a time when I was so crushed by my own divorce, I couldn’t accept anyone else’s love, because I didn’t believe I was lovable, I didn’t believe any of it was real.  Ladies, I’m telling you…you have to fall in love with yourself.  You have to look in the mirror and say, I am a catch.  Any guy that ends up with me, is going to be lucky to have me.  But, how do you do that when you’ve experienced so much disappointment?

You have got to fall in love with the man that gave it all for you.  Jesus.

There is a story in the Bible that I love.  It is from Numbers 16.  The Israelites were angry, hurting, disappointed people.  There was no end to their grumbling and complaining.  One day, they decided they were going to rise up against God’s chosen leaders, Moses and Aaron.   They were basically saying, what makes you so holy?  And they accused Moses, saying that he had led them out to the wilderness to die.  The Israelites were at most times, their own worst enemies.  They had suffered for so long, that they could only see the negative in everything.  Maybe they were in the wilderness for so long so that God could retrain them to see the good in life, to serve him with love and dedication.  Otherwise, they would have marched right into that promised-land, completely ungrateful and completely unappreciative of the gifts they had been given.  They would have been so wishy washy in their allegiance to God, turning to the right or the left at the slightest shift.

There comes a point at the end of the chapter, where God says, you know what….back up Aaron, back up Moses, I’m just going to take them out.  I’ll just put an end to these ungrateful people.  But, Aaron takes some burning coals from the altar of atonement, and he runs out into the crowd of dying people with the sacrifice for their sins.  He stands between the living and the dead with the sacrifice and puts an end to the plague that was killing them one by one.

Numbers 16:41-50, “The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord said to Moses, “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.”  So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.”

When I read this story, I can just see myself standing out in that crowd.  I’m no better than the Israelites, really.  How many times have I grumbled at God’s provision for me, instead of thanking him for taking care of me?  How many times have I blamed him for my troubles instead of seeing that he was trying to lead me to my promised land, but before I could go in, I had to learn to love me and love him with all of my heart?  I deserved to be standing there that day, with my many complaints.  And, as I picture myself, standing there watching as the people are falling to their death, right in front of me, I imagine that I would crouch down to brace myself for the certain death that was about to come.  After a few seconds, eyes squeezed tightly closed, nothing happens, I’m still alive.  So, I open my eyes to see Aaron standing in front of me, arms stretched wide with the atoning sacrifice held high above me.  This is exactly what Jesus did for us.  He came running out into the crowd to stand between the living and the dead, and he cried, no not her, God.  Take me instead.  I will cover her sins, I will pay her debt.  I love her, God, take me instead.

If Jesus loved you so much, that he would run to save you without judgment or condemnation, why wouldn’t you love yourself enough to stop every now and then just to love yourself?  I get it.  Sometimes, the hurt is too much.  Sometimes, you have been rejected so much, over and over and over again, that it changes you.  It does something to you.  It puts a black hole inside of you that sucks the life and love and happiness out of every ounce of your being.  And, sometimes, that kind of pain is not something that you can overcome over-night.  Sometimes, you have to see the baby steps, you have to celebrate the small victories.  You have to say, look at that, that little thing used to bother me, but God brought me through that to here.  Sometimes, you have to remind yourself that you are loved over and over and over again, until you start to love yourself.  If all you can do right now is fall to your knees with eyes squeezed tightly closed, that’s okay. But, when you get ready to open your eyes, you will see there is a Savior standing there over you with the atoning sacrifice for you.  You will see that there was a man willing to run to you and throw his arms open wide, and say, please God, I love her, take me instead.

Fall in love with that man, Jesus. And, fall in love with the person he was willing to die for to save, you.

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